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I’d planned to inject here a call for easing the rule that only those who vote for the big bills can serve on conference committees. The final budget-shaping negotiations ought to be among the Legislature’s most knowledgeable members, and ranking minority members of committees know a lot. But Abeler’s experience shows that just getting minority members appointed to conference committees would not assure an outcome that draws from the best ideas of both sides. That requires a genuine willingness on the part of the majority to hear the minority’s ideas and take some of them to heart.
That used to happen — or so a speaker (me) recounted at a May 9 reunion of former and current state senators. It wasn’t because the rules of lawmaking were different 20 or 30 years ago. It was because leading DFL senators understood that it was good for both the state and the Senate.
That notion helped keep the DFL in control of the Senate for 38 years. I believe that’s called enlightened self-interest.
Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist. She is at email@example.com.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.